NFU president Peter Kendall and Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George have clashed over Government plans for a badger cull in England.
Mr George said the Lib Dems ‘don’t fully support’ the policy as they were ‘not convinced’ it is justified by the science and could be implemented as intended, despite assurances from the NFU that it would be done properly.
“Our concern is the risk of making things worse and farmers would never forgive us for that,” he said at a Lib Dem conference fringe meeting.
He insisted he would accept culling on a smaller scale than proposed by Defra, if backed by the science but said he wanted greater emphasis on other approaches like vaccination and tighter cattle controls.
He added that it was ‘very much at our insistence’ that the two proposed pilot cull areas will be ‘thoroughly assessed for their effectiveness and humaneness’.
This prompted a sharp response from Mr Kendall, who demanded to know whether Mr George was pushing for the pilots to go ahead.
“Secondly, assuming the assuming the pilot goes ahead shows they are safe, humane and effective we need to make sure they are rolled out next year. That’s the support we need getting through to Defra,” he said.
Mr George said he wanted the pilots to go ahead but repeated his concerns about culling making the disease worse, particularly if rolled out nationally.
“The NFU position is that you pre-suppose this policy is going to work and we are reserving judgement on that,” he said.